Ryan Poles Has Earned More Time In Chicago
First, Poles deserves credit for trading down from the No. 1 pick last offseason. Chicago acquired a haul from the Carolina Panthers, including superstar wide receiver D.J. Moore and several high-end draft picks. One of those selections is slated for the top spot in the 2024 NFL Draft.
Furthermore, Poles pulled the trigger on a polarizing move at this year's NFL trade deadline. Trading for Montez Sweat was a phenomenal move in theory, although some questioned giving up a second-round pick for an impending free agent. But the Bears got the last laugh.
Sweat agreed to a lengthy contract extension, effectively tying himself to the franchise for the remainder of his prime. Since arriving in the Windy City, the 27-year-old pass rusher (along with a healthy Justin Fields) has helped Chicago to five victories in eight games by chipping in six sacks in that span.
Matt Eberflus' Hourglass Is Running Out Of Sand
Now, for the elephant in the room: Matt Eberflus. To the credit of the first-time head coach, the Bears are a fiery unit on defense. After pioneering a couple of stellar defenses in Dallas and Indianapolis, Eberflus finally has his system in place with Chicago. But is it too late?
The team only won three games in 2022, leading to the aforementioned No. 1 overall pick. For much of the year, Eberflus’ defense was shredded, allowing the most points in the entire league. At the onset of the 2023 campaign, it looked as though the struggles had carried over.
The Bears gave up 137 points in the first four games, ranking dead last in the NFL. A few more up-and-down contests only further exacerbated the issues. But then Montez Sweat showed up. And since then, Eberflus and Co. have dominated most matchups, nearly propping up the team’s record to .500.
As for the regime's future in Chicago, it is up in the air at this point. Poles should be granted another season at least, given the improvements he has brought to the roster. One could argue that the general manager even deserves an extension — but that’s a different conversation for another day.
Eberflus profiles best as a defensive coordinator but not a head coach, especially with a raw quarterback under center. While the tumultuous play of Justin Fields isn’t solely on Eberflus, it’s hard to see the star signal-caller improving without a top-tier offensive playcaller — and respectfully, Luke Getsy is not that.
Either Eberflus will be sent packing in favor of a young, offensive-minded replacement. Or he will likely be asked to find a better offensive coordinator to get the most out of Fields. That is if Fields is even on the roster by Week 1 of the 2024 season…